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Hassan to debut new Victory boat in Qatar GP

SUPERFUND CLASS 1 WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
QATAR GRAND PRIX, Round 6 of 8
October 23rd-25th, 2003

For immediate release
Sunday, October 19th, 2003

QATAR'S SHEIKH HASSAN TO DEBUT NEW
VICTORY-BUILT BOAT IN QATAR GRAND PRIX

Qatari star sets sights on podium finish; Doha GP marks first Middle East round

DOHA (Qatar): Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, will give his new Michael Peters-designed Victory boat its competitive debut in the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend (October 23rd-25th) off the coast of Doha.

Sheikh Hassan, 35, rented the Damas boat for the last three European rounds of the Superfund Class 1 World Power Boat Championship in England, Norway and Austria and finished all three races. He finished sixth overall in both the Plymouth and Oslo races and a fine fourth overall in the dramatic Austrian race on Lake Traunsee.

But Hassan and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini took charge of their latest specification Qatar 96 Team boat at the start of October and tested it for the first time off the coast of Dubai two weeks ago. The initial shakedown lasted for around two hours and both crew members were impressed with the racing craft's performance.

~The new boat is absolutely fantastic,~ admitted Sheikh Hassan. ~It's far more than I expected. The Victory Team have really delivered what they promised in terms of quality and timing. Regarding boat performance, it's now up to Matteo and I to do our best and ensure that our boat is as fast as the others on the circuit.

~Racing in Doha is not easy. It's my home and we are expected to do better than fourth. With that the podium is no longer an option. But at the same time we will not do anything stupid that we could regret later on. There is no doubting that we will be trying as hard as we can in Doha.~

Sheikh Hassan is confident that he can now challenge the leaders on his home round of the World Championship. The Qatar Grand Prix is also the first of three rounds of the Middle East Championship.

~My realistic aim is to finish,~ adds Sheikh Hassan. ~But to finish on the podium would be nice. Winning the Middle East Championship is not going to be easy, but it is not impossible. We are racing and so many scenarios can and do happen during a race. With a stroke of luck and factors working in our favour, we could be heading for the regional title.~

But Sheikh Hassan admits that the weather conditions for the Doha race can be changeable. ~The race off Doha takes place in sea water conditions,~ says Sheikh Hassan. ~I cannot envisage big waves if the weather deteriorates, because of the way that Doha is situated.

~There is a closed bay which protects the race course from any northerly winds that we typically get in Doha. If the wind direction changes, the Doha port will also protect the race course from any south-easterly winds. So, under any weather conditions that might prevail during race weekend, the course is protected from big waves.~

The Spirit of Norway team of Bjorn Gjelsten and British throttleman Steve Curtis have dominated the series so far this year, but they face the powerful Dubai-based Victory 7 and Victory 77 teams in Doha, in addition to competitive entries from Highlander, Jotun and the Maritimo team, which have purchased a new Victory boat after destroying their vessel in a high-speed crash during the last race in Austria.

The Qatar Grand Prix is being organised by the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, under the chairmanship of Sheikh Ahmad Bin Ali Al-Thani, and will run over three days. Technical scrutineering will take place in dry pits on Thursday, October 23rd and this will be followed by an official practice session between noon and 15.00.

A second practice session has been arranged for Friday morning, followed by a one-hour pole position qualifying session. The actual race will consist of 16 laps of a 6.9 Nm circuit and takes place on Saturday afternoon (October 25th).

Ends

For further media information, contact Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, (Mobile: + (971 50) 5594369 and E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com
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Date issued: 19/10/2003

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